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Flexibility options in electricity systems - ECOFYS

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Leonardo ENERGY and Ecofys identify flexibility gap in power systems with higher shares of variable renewable energy sources



This report clarifies the flexibility needs for the transition to power systems with very high penetration levels of variable renewable energy sources (VRES). The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the complete spectrum of flexibility options and identifies key barriers for their deployment. The report has been launched by Leonardo ENERGY and Ecofys. It shows that increasing flexibility is key for the reliable operation of future power systems.


According to the report, a “flexible” power system is able to maintain continuous service especially in the face of rapid and large swings in supply or demand. The introduction of VRES such as wind and solar energy increases the requirements for power system flexibility for two reasons: VRES increase the variability in energy supply, increasing the need for flexibility; and VRES displace part of the conventional generation capacity, tending to reduce flexible resources in the system.


The “flexibility gap” unveiled in the report will need to be covered by new flexibility options. Sixteen fact sheets describe the characteristics of the key flexibility options, based on five basic flexibility categories: supply, demand, energy storage, network, and system. The options covered include flexibility in fossil fuels, nuclear, biogas, CHP, demand management, electric vehicles, power to heat, hydro, flywheels, batteries, power to gas and others. The authors also consider market options to uncap flexibility, and network options to increase flexibility.


The authors also recognise that active power control of VRES needs to take technical, institutional, perceptual, and potentially political challenges into account.



You can download the report at the link below.